I received four boxes packed with ACES documents today from former ACES President Chris Wienandt. The official handing off of the torch, so to speak.
It seems kind of rude to get thousands of documents on election night, but duty calls (after I tried and failed to pawn them off on colleague Neil Holdway), so I started tearing into them to see what treasures or complete drudgery I’m assuming responsibility for. And, those of you who know me, know I hate to suffer alone, so I thought I’d take you, too, on a journey through ACES history.
The first page inside the first box: It’s an article by ACES member and Oregon professor John Russial titled, “Goodbye copy desks, hello trouble?” The interesting thing: It was published in the Newspaper Research Journal in 1998.
So 12 years ago, there was a lot of movement to reassign, re-engineer, dismantle, reorganize copy desks. Pretty much every one of those papers later ditched those plans (the Wichita Eagle totally disbanded its copy desk, then disbanded the disband). Maybe in 2022, Russial will write another article about the trend to eliminate copy editors from web operations and how it was the downfall of many news organizations.
Deeper into the box:I find our official 501(c)(3) ruling from the IRS (I’m thinking I need to keep a hold of this one), a bunch of programs from 2006, the Tribune’s bankruptcy filing (they still owe us $5,000), a military stylebook compiled in 2002 by now-retired ACES member Ed Gallardo, and an ACES membership directory from 1999 (Sushant Sagar, your membership expired 6/01/1999).
Top of the second box: Memos from Bill Connolly outlining a plan to hire an ACES administrator dated from 2000. A newsletter from 1998 with a good article by Alex Cruden on how to edit in a hurry (like Russial’s article, some things haven’t changed!) and another article on how ACES was planning to double its membership from 1,000 to 2,000. And a very, very old membership brochure.
Then, a bunch of tax and insurance documents … time to move on to box No. 3.
Top of box three: A memo from Thad Ogburn of the News & Observer announcing our 1999 scholarship winners (anyone know where Marisa Ferguson, Dan Gordon, Royce Hall and Beth Kormanik are?). Farther down, a handout from a 1999 session called “Pagination Nation” that talks about how to deal with the fear of pagination. And finally, a memo from me suggesting Fado for the post-conference party when it was here in Chicago in ’03.
Bored yet? Hang in there … we’re on to the last box. Maybe there’s gold in it?
Top of box 4: A proposal from Douglas Backstrom, then of the Miami Herald, to host a conference there. Then, a folder labeled “Atlanta conference” — which is empty (but I think we should go there, don’t you?). More meeting minutes, a budget from 2002 that shows just $100 for headline contest prizes. And, evidently, the answers to our “secret” questions on our PayPal account. Anyone want to guess what ACES’ mother’s maiden name is?
Looking through these boxes, I’m struck by several things. First, it takes a lot of paperwork for an organization like ACES to operate! We owe a huge debt to those who’ve served before the current board for all they’ve done.
The second is, there’s always going to be turmoil in our industry. If it’s not the maestro concept or pagination, it’s readers’ short attention spans or the Internet. But through it all, we — as individual copy editors and the group ACES — adapt, grow stronger and get better.
Thanks for taking this look back with me; it helps put the future in better focus.